27 July 2011

What a Difference a Week Has Made

I feel like a new person this week. I feel like last week was truly just a nightmare. Life is good and Thane is happily playing his ball and other toys to his typical Border Collie obsessiveness. It is good! I never thought I would ever dream for, wish for, such obsession and yet there I was doing just that.

Thane's improvements are wonderful! I am not kidding myself though- I know we are far from through this marathon. We will however celebrate the good and work through the hard times as they come.

One thing that I have learned through this experience is just how much easier Thane makes my public access life. The kinds of things he must negotiate with ease that I have not even the slightest awareness we encountered are basically revealing themselves to me now as I make my attempts for access in solo fashion.

Store workers for the most part are helpful as long as I am really clear what I need and why. New Seasons still remains the best in all of this though- particularly in the produce department where I tend to need the most assistance.

Today I headed out to use the bus stop closest to home. With Thane we take a long walk to a stop that is much easier to get to. I am really limited in my approaches though without Thane being with me- in my ease of navigation, in my physical limitations in using a guide cane and in the weakness and pain that I endure as a result. These aspects also limit how far I can actually ask myself to travel. Today I headed to the bus stop which requires navigating the sidewalk route in front of Safeway and the other stores in that shopping strip. Why is it that everyone but Safeway gets that the sidewalk area is not an extension of the store! Safeway has put up a barbecue pit from what I was told after I collided with it. Guide canes with wheelchairs aren't always as effective as they are for the ambulatory blind either. Thankfully it was my shopping basket that made contact and not my body. That was just the last of many new obstacles they had left in the way as I navigated around like I was amidst weave poles to try and find a safe route to where I was headed. Believe me I was glad to get beyond Safeway as it was getting on the disorienting side. I thought to myself and I have not even made it to the bus or route for travel from the max yet!

When I got off the Max which was the newer train design (I still prefer the old ones as does much of the population that rides max), I could not believe how much easier Thane makes it to handle those ramps that are quite steep. Trimet was power washing the station as well- great just what I needed! To do this requires two hoses for some reason. One you can get over in a wheelchair and another which is near the truck some distance from the station itself you can not navigate no matter what method you try. Thane would just take another path and then head us back the way we need after he cleared us of the obstacle but with my guide cane, finding an alternative route just was not that easy. I really began wondering just how many more surprises were waiting for me today.

Thankfully the rest of my travel and shopping went smoothly, but I barely made the max on the way back because, you got it, no one was there to help in the hose negotiations on the way back. I managed to find an alternate route, but it was not quite as safe IMO. They need to keep someone at the truck if they are going to do this nonsense during peak travel hours or better yet place a double ramp over their hose so that people can actually function when employees are not there to help us. I still think that it is really stupid to power wash a shelter when people need its use- shaking my head

Everything else went very smoothly from the max ride, to bus, to getting back home. Thane was so happy to see me. He's still trying to figure out why I won't take him, but accepts my decisions about whether or not he gets to go.

His walks go well when I have the ability to do them- when time, pain, energy and weather cooperate that is. We'll be trying a small in town errand in the next couple days and from there I will make decisions about what else I can ask of him.

One thing I have learned is that despite not wanting to fall into that rut of not realizing just how much Thane does, I have done just that. This has been quite an eye opening experience. I am relieved that he can and will be back soon because I sure do miss my other half of me.

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